What is Microsoft SharePoint
Microsoft SharePoint is a web application platform developed by Microsoft. First launched in 2001, SharePoint is typically associated with web content management and document management systems, but it is actually a much broader platform of web technologies, capable of being configured to suit a wide range of solution areas.
SharePoint is designed as a broad, central application platform for common enterprise web requirements. SharePoint’s multi-purpose design allows for management and provisioning of intranet portals, extranets, websites, document & file management, collaboration spaces, social tools, enterprise search, business intelligence, process integration, system integration, workflow automation, and core infrastructure for third-party solutions. SharePoint’s core infrastructure is also suited to providing a base technology platform for custom developed applications.
SharePoint is capable of supporting multiple organizations on a single ‘server farm’. Microsoft provides SharePoint Foundation at no cost, but sells premium editions with additional functionality,and also provides SharePoint as a service in their cloud computing as part of their Office 365 platform (and previously as part of their Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS) offering). The product is also sold through a cloud model by many third-party vendors.
The most common uses of SharePoint include:
A SharePoint intranet portal is a way to centralize access to enterprise information and applications on a corporate network. It is a tool that helps a company manage its data, applications and information more easily. This has organizational benefits such as increased employee engagement, centralizing process management, reducing new staff on-boarding costs, and providing tacit knowledge capture.
Enterprise content and document management
SharePoint is often used to store and track electronic documents or images of paper documents. It is usually also capable of keeping track of the different versions created by different users. In addition to being a platform for digital record management systems that meet government and industry compliance standards, SharePoint also provides the benefit of a central location for storing and collaborating on documents, which can significantly reduce emails and duplicated work in an organization.
SharePoint can be used to provide password-protected, web-facing access to people outside an organization. Organizations often use functionality like this to integrate third parties into supply chain or business processes, or to provide a shared collaboration environment.
Using the ‘Publishing’ feature, SharePoint can be used to manage larger public websites.
SharePoint offers a ‘fluent’ ribbon user-interface that should be familiar to users of Microsoft Office. This interface provides a general user interface for manipulating data, page editing ability, and the ability to add functionality to sites.
Broadly, the web-based interface provides the ability to:
- Manipulate content in lists & libraries, pages and sites.
- Copy, create, delete, or rename lists & libraries, pages, sites and web-parts
- Manage user permissions, and view document/page version histories
- Manage definitions and properties of lists & libraries, pages, sites and web-parts.
Integration of custom add-ons:
- Farm features and solutions — these are fully customized code that need to be installed at a farm-level, often in the Global Assembly Cache (GAC) of each server. They have full trust on each server, but are typically quite difficult to deploy.
- ‘Sand-boxed’ solutions — uploaded by any end-user with permission to upload solutions through the web interface, these are security-restricted, and heavily governed by the farm infrastructure. In multi-tenant cloud environments, these are the only customizations that are typically allowed.
- Service applications — It is possible to integrate directly into the SharePoint SOA bus
- Use of REST/SOAP Web Service application programming interfaces (APIs)
These customizations may be surfaced as:
- Application-to-application integration with SharePoint
- Extensions to SharePoint functionality (e.g. custom workflow actions)
- ‘Web Parts’ (also known as “portlets”, “widgets”, or “gadgets”) that provide new functionality when added to a page
- Pages/sites or page/site templates.
The following are the various requirements for deploying Microsoft SharePoint.
|Processor||64-bit, four cores|
|Hard disk||80 GB for system drive, varies for production environment depending on application size|
Microsoft SharePoint 2010 comes in three different editions: SharePoint Foundation, SharePoint Standard and SharePoint Enterprise.
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation
- Microsoft SharePoint Foundation is the platform for all products in the SharePoint family. It contains all of the core functionality and architecture drawn on by the commercial versions of the package. SharePoint Foundation is available for download at no cost. Downloading SharePoint Foundation however, requires a mandatory registration.
Microsoft Search Server Express
- Microsoft’s Search Server Express is a free, modified distribution of SharePoint 2010 Foundation. The installer for this package installs SharePoint 2010 Foundation, plus a limited subset of enterprise search features and enterprise document management features typically only found in paid versions of SharePoint.
Microsoft SharePoint Standard
Microsoft SharePoint Standard builds on the Microsoft SharePoint Foundation in a few key product areas.
- Sites: Audience targeting, governance tools, Secure store service, web analytics functionality
- Communities: ‘MySites’ (personal profiles including skills management, and search tools), enterprise wikis, organization hierarchy browser, tags and notes
- Content: Improved tooling and compliance for document & record management, managed metadata, word automation services, content type management
- Search: Better search results, search customization abilities, mobile search, OS search integration, Faceted Search, and metadata/relevancy/date/location based refinement options
- Composites: Pre-built workflow templates, BCS profile pages
Note: some search features are available in Search Server Express – a no-cost add-in for Microsoft SharePoint Foundation.
SharePoint Standard licensing includes a CAL (client access license) component and a server fee. SharePoint Standard may also be licensed through a cloud model. It is possible to upgrade a SharePoint farm from Foundation to Standard. The product is equivalent to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007.
Microsoft SharePoint Enterprise
- Built upon SharePoint Standard, Microsoft SharePoint Enterprise features can be unlocked simply by providing an additional licence key. The product is the equivalent to MOSS 2007 Enterprise.
Extra features in SharePoint Enterprise include:
- Search thumbnails and previews, rich web indexing, better search results
- BI Integration, Dashboards, and Business Data surfacing
- Microsoft Office Access, Visio, Excel, and InfoPath Forms services
- SharePoint Enterprise Search extensions
SharePoint Enterprise licensing includes a CAL component and a server fee that must be purchased in addition to SharePoint Server licensing. SharePoint Enterprise may also be licensed through a cloud model.
The Advantages of Microsoft SharePoint
- As companies grow so does the amount of their files. It soon becomes difficult to keep track of the multiplying documents and their locations. SharePoint overcomes this by allowing you to store and share your files in a central site.
- Sharing work files through email is a cumbersome process. SharePoint eliminates this by allowing files to be stored in one location, allowing easy access to all team members.
- Business Intelligence has traditionally remained in the hands of a few key decision makers within organizations. For years, it has been the goal of BI providers to “democratize business intelligence” by making it available to all levels of workers throughout companies. With the addition of Performance Point to the SharePoint Enterprise version of SharePoint, this vision is realized, finally taking business intelligence out of the hands of the few and into the hands of many.
- Today’s work occurs over multiple locations, whether it is in different countries, office locations, separate departments or at your home office. SharePoint enables teams and individuals to connect and collaborate together regardless of where they are located.
- Surveys have shown that employees can spend up to 20 – 30 % of their day searching for data and information. SharePoint eliminates this drag on productivity by providing the robust search functionality needed to find the information and expertise buried in the thousands, or hundreds of thousands of files a company generates in the course of business.
Microsoft SharePoint Designer
Microsoft SharePoint Designer (formerly known as Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer) is a specialized HTML editor and web design freeware for creating or modifying Microsoft SharePoint sites and web pages. It is a part of Microsoft SharePoint family of products. It was formerly a part of Microsoft Office 2007 families of products, but was not included in any of the Microsoft Office suites.
SharePoint Designer and its sister product, Microsoft Expression Web are successors of Microsoft FrontPage. While Expression Web serves as the full-featured successor to FrontPage, SharePoint Designer features focuses on designing and customizing Microsoft SharePoint websites. For instance, it only includes SharePoint-specific site templates. It retains more FrontPage features than Expression Web, such as web components, database, marquee, hit counter, navigation bars, map insert, etc.
The first version of this product, SharePoint Designer 2007, was a commercial software product. On March 31, 2009 however, SharePoint Designer 2007 was made available as a freeware. On April 24, 2009, Microsoft released SharePoint Designer Service Pack 2. On April 21, 2010, SharePoint Designer 2010 was released and made available for download. On October 24, 2011, Microsoft released SharePoint Designer Service Pack 3.